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Know the Drill

BY VOLKER NOLTE
PHOTO BY SPORTGRAPHICS

Drills are one of the most effective ways to engrain a new habit, particularly those that overemphasize a certain movement so its normal application feels easy. Rowing on the square teaches the correct hand path during the release and balance on the recovery.

There are numerous variations of this seemingly simple drill. Coaches may choose starting the drill in a balanced boat at low speed. Increasing the pressure, speed of the boat, stroke rate, and the number of rowers involved adds to the difficulty of the drill.

Pausing is another popular drill, which helps with balance, sequencing, and crew coordination. This drill also has varying levels of difficulty, with the “easy” starting point consisting of a short pause with fully-stretched legs, the hands in front of the knees, and blades feathered.

The so-called “wide-grip” drill increases the catch angle and, for sweep rowers, emphasizes proper rotation while also stressing balance. Increasing the width of the grip makes this drill more difficult and changing the hand position every stroke adds to the complexity.

The variety of drills becomes literally endless when we start combining them.

In general, beginners or athletes with poor skill levels need to start with more straightforward drills. Experts can be challenged with the most difficult combination of exercises administered with minimal feedback from the coach. 

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